Reducing Zoom Fatigue

  • August 28, 2020
The Zoom interface is designed to alleviate eye strain, but staring at it for hours a day can still be physically and mentally taxing. [PC: Screenshot by Joyce Kim]

Though school has only just started, it already feels like we are a few weeks in, and even the briefest of lessons leaves us feeling drained. Commonly known as “Zoom fatigue,” this feeling is shared among many, now that the better part of our daily lives has transitioned online.

What causes Zoom fatigue? According to the Harvard Business Review, there are a couple reasons. In a typical room full of people, it’s easy to ask the person besides you if you happen to miss something. But on-screen, missing out on information can mean having to awkwardly ask the speaker to repeat themselves. Because of this, online conversations require more focus and concentration, as zoning out can have more consequences. 

Furthermore, staring at a screen that is two to three feet from our faces requires a “constant gaze” with the face on the screen. Looking out the window or to the side during a Zoom call implies that you’re distracted, as everyone is constantly seeing your face and movements on the screen, which results in more of an effort to appear actively engaged. 

According to TED, another big factor behind Zoom fatigue is that we’re seeing our own faces on the screen; in fact, many of us spend the majority of Zoom calls staring at our own faces. Seeing our own expressions can intensify the negative emotions we’re already feeling, as well as just overall stress us out.

On top of all of that, most of us are stationed at the same place during video calls, without taking any breaks or moving around. This, coupled with having to stare at a bright screen all day, physically drains us. 

So, here are a few ways you can combat Zoom fatigue.

First, it can be helpful to change and improve the workspace that you are in. This can mean switching spots in between Zoom calls, or if you’re confined to your room, simply decorating your space to make it feel more welcoming. Creating an environment that you like being in, whether it’s with your favorite artwork, posters, room lights, or a comfortable chair and desk, can make all the difference in your attitude towards Zoom calls.

Second, Zoom fatigue can be reduced by mediating screen time. Most of us spend our days attached to our phones and devices, even when it’s not for schoolwork. Reducing that extra time spent looking at a screen and doing things offline as much as possible can make the Zoom sessions feel less redundant, as well as reduce eye pain or headaches.

Third, you’ll focus less on your discomfort or exhaustion when you are actively engaged and productive during calls. Though this is sometimes out of our control, as teachers regulate most calls, it can mean asking questions, raising your hand often, or doing your best to tune in and learn as much as you can.

Finally and most importantly, Zoom calls will have much less of an effect when you’re getting proper rest and sleep. Nine hours of sleep is recommended for teenagers, but even if you don’t get that much, there are ways to ensure you’re making the most out of the time you do spend sleeping. Turning off all your devices an hour before going to bed can help, as well as maintaining a proper and reasonable sleeping schedule.

As our future for at least the next few months seems to reside heavily on Zoom and online interactions, it’s important to find ways to combat the fatigue we all feel by the end of the day.

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